Appeals Court to Rapidly Review Trump’s Claim of Presidential Immunity in Sexual Abuse Case

by Sophia Chen
Presidential Immunity

A U.S. federal appeals court has announced it will promptly review the assertion by former President Donald Trump that he is shielded by presidential immunity from liability for remarks he made in 2019, where he rejected allegations of sexually assaulting a New York-based author during the 1990s. The announcement was made on Wednesday by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.

The accelerated consideration of the appeal comes one day after Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, informed a three-judge panel of the court that the matter posed a significant question with long-term implications for the interplay between the judicial and executive branches of government.

The 2nd Circuit has established a timeline that calls for the submission of written arguments within the next month. Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan has scheduled January 15 as the date for a jury to deliberate on damages pertaining to a protracted lawsuit initiated by the author, E. Jean Carroll. Carroll has accused Trump of defamation, asserting that he falsely claimed she had fabricated allegations of sexual assault in a memoir where she detailed an incident that took place in an upscale Manhattan department store in 1996.

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In May, while a jury dismissed Carroll’s claim that Trump had raped her in the store’s fitting room, it did conclude that he had sexually abused her. The jury awarded $5 million in damages for the sexual abuse and for defamatory statements they found Trump had made subsequently. Trump has categorically denied both the sexual abuse and any encounter with Carroll at the store.

Last week, Judge Kaplan determined that the forthcoming defamation trial set for January would focus solely on the issue of damages. This is because Trump’s statements from 2019 were largely consistent with later statements, which a jury has already deemed false and defamatory.

Carroll is pursuing $10 million in compensatory damages, along with an additional, yet unspecified, amount in punitive damages.

In oral arguments before the 2nd Circuit on Tuesday, Joshua Matz, representing Carroll, pressed for a quick hearing of the appeal. He highlighted the difficulty in rescheduling the damages segment of the defamation trial for next year, especially considering Trump faces four criminal indictments while seeking the Republican presidential nomination for the upcoming year.

The 2nd Circuit, in its two-page order, denied Trump’s request to halt lower-court proceedings during the appeal. However, it indicated that a swift resolution of the presidential immunity issue would benefit all parties involved.

During the oral arguments on Tuesday, Circuit Judge Reena Raggi queried why the immunity claim was being raised at this point, especially when it pertains to actions Trump took after leaving office, for which he would not be granted immunity. In response, Habba contended that the remarks made by Trump this year were directly connected to his actions from 2019.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Presidential Immunity

What court is responsible for reviewing Donald Trump’s claim of presidential immunity?

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan is responsible for expeditiously reviewing the claim of presidential immunity made by former President Donald Trump.

Who initiated the lawsuit against Donald Trump?

The lawsuit against Donald Trump was initiated by New York author E. Jean Carroll. She filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, claiming he falsely accused her of fabricating allegations of sexual abuse.

What is the primary issue under review by the appeals court?

The primary issue under review is Donald Trump’s assertion that presidential immunity shields him from liability for statements he made in 2019, in which he denied sexually assaulting E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s.

What is the timeline for written arguments in the case?

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has set a schedule that requires written arguments to be submitted within the next month.

What kind of damages is E. Jean Carroll seeking?

E. Jean Carroll is seeking $10 million in compensatory damages along with an additional, yet unspecified, amount in punitive damages.

What did the previous jury conclude about the allegations?

In May, a jury rejected Carroll’s claim that Trump had raped her but concluded that he had sexually abused her. The jury awarded $5 million for the sexual abuse and for defamatory statements that it concluded Trump made subsequently.

Why is the upcoming trial focusing only on damages?

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled that the forthcoming defamation trial scheduled for January would concentrate solely on damages because Trump’s statements from 2019 were substantially consistent with later statements that a jury has already found to be false and defamatory.

What other legal challenges is Donald Trump facing?

Donald Trump faces four criminal indictments as he campaigns to be the Republican nominee for president next year.

How does this case affect the balance between the judiciary and executive branches?

The case is seen as significant because it raises questions about the extent of presidential immunity, which could have long-term implications for the balance of power between the judiciary and the executive branches of the U.S. government.

More about Presidential Immunity

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Robert Gray September 14, 2023 - 12:38 pm

It’s not just about this case, but the balance between judicial and executive power that’s at stake. That’s what makes this case one to watch.

Sarah Williams September 15, 2023 - 12:05 am

The timeline for this case is really tight. Written arguments within a month? Legal teams on both sides must be sweating bullets.

Emily Nelson September 15, 2023 - 1:35 am

E. Jean Carroll seeking 10M in compensatory damages and more in punitive? That’s no small sum. Curious to see how this all unfolds.

John Smith September 15, 2023 - 6:45 am

Wow, talk about a complex case. Presidential immunity? This is gonna have some serious ripples thru our legal system, don’t ya think?

Mike Harris September 15, 2023 - 7:04 am

hard to keep up with all these cases against Trump. He’s facing 4 indictments and still planning on running for president? What a world…


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